Graduate study in atmospheric radiochemistry is available in the Department of Chemistry at Clarkson University leading to an M.S. or Ph.D. in Chemistry. There are also opportunities for study of environmental chemistry and chemometrics in the programs within the Chemistry Department.
One of the principal areas of study is indoor radon and its decay products. The research program now at Clarkson has been examining radon decay product behavior for more than 15 years. In that time we have studied the kinetics of neutralization of the 218Po+ ion initially formed by the 222Rn decay, the production rate of hydroxyl radicals in the vicinity of the Po atom, and ion-induced nucleation rates. These radicals can react with trace gases to produce oxidized compounds that then form ultrafine particles. Current studies use the radiolytic oxidation of SO2 to SO4 as a model system. Additional studies are examining organic species typical of those found in indoor atmospheres. The program has developed new measurement methods that permit the determination of the size distribution of the radon decay products down to the molecule size range. An automated, semi-continuous unit is being used in field studies to develop a better understanding of indoor particle sources and their effect on the airborne radioactivity concentration. The latest in aerosol measurement equipment is being used to characterize the indoor particulate matter. A variety of research projects related both to laboratory and/or field studies are underway.
In addition to the radon/aerosol studies, there is an active program in receptor modeling for the identification and source apportionment on ambient aerosol mass. Nuclear spectroscopy-based analytical methods such as instrumental neutron activation and x-ray fluorescence analysis provide substantial information on the composition of ambient particulate matter. The problem then exists to identify where the particles originate, to understand their transport to the sampling site, and to determine the chemistry that took place during the transit period. The mathematical methods necessary to analyze large, complex environmental data sets has been an area of active study and further work continues to be needed.
Financial aid is available in the form of research and teaching assistantships.
For further information about these research programs, please contact:
Dr. Philip K. Hopke
Department of Chemistry
Potsdam, NY 13699-5810
PHONE: (315) 268-3861